Spring is blooming all around me as I arrive and walk up the sidewalk to my friend Katy’s house. I stand awkwardly waiting on the front steps. I’ve always felt awkward standing on the front steps after the knock is made or doorbell rung. The door swings open. “Well, there you are!” Katy exclaims with her big smile. “Aren’t you beautiful?” She says as she embraces me thoughtful of my pregnant middle. “I’m so glad to be here,” I say feeling myself relax. “Me too, me too! Come and sit down, dear,” Katy says as she ushers me to the tea-table. It’s her front room, and it feels like a parlor. There is a formal sitting area, a piano I know belonged to George, and a lovely table with a lace tablecloth. There are music sheets open at the piano, and the table is set for tea.
“I’ve made us a little luncheon to go with our scones because I thought you might need something more,” she said and patted my hand. We sat down together, and Katy poured the tea from a teapot. I added sugar and milk without a thought. I took a long drink and sat firmly against the back in my chair. Katy offered me the raw green pepper, tomatoes, cheese, and crackers. I took some but no peppers. “Don’t you like peppers, Sugar?” she asks. “No, I’ve always preferred them cooked,” I said sheepishly. She said, “Oh, that’s fine, just fine. I’m sorry for you is all.” She laughed and I laughed too. Her oven dinged, and she came back with hot scones. “They smell wonderful,” I said wishing I could eat the whole pan. “Well, they are just glorified biscuits, after all,” Katy said with a satisfied smile. We both put one on our plate and took turns putting butter and raspberry jam on them. “This is the only thing worth eating with a good cup of tea,” I said.
“Now, tell me, are you doing okay?” I asked my sweet friend. “Oh, yes. It hasn’t been long. I get lonely, but I stay busy,” Katy said. “I know you miss him. I can’t imagine what it’s like,” I mumble. “Yes, I miss him. Oh, George. There are so many memories. But, I’m sure he knows this. If I would have known about his sinus trouble and him not liking to travel, I might not have married him!” she says with a twinkle in her eye. I know this isn’t true. I can see the love she has for George shining out of her face. I miss him too. They were married forever. We sit together in a knowing silence. I love tea with Katy. It is a special treat and better than any spa day. She tells me a few stories about growing up in Mabank, and then I talk for a while. We giggle over how she used to date Howard E. Butt as a young woman, and she describes what the train ride was like from Mabank to Denton where she first went to college.
She eats another pepper, and I chuckle about the peppers. She sees my look, and she tells me how she would pick hickory nuts for her after-school snack. I imagine her cracking open those nuts after walking home from school. I think how fun it is to imagine her as “Katy Belle.” She must have been a fine friend. Ah, but now she is fabulous. She pulls the my story from her folder and tells me that she made notes about changes. “Keep writing, Sugar,” she pushes gently. We talk about the book she published, Letters from Katy, and she hands me a copy to take home to read. She describes her drives to see her mother in the nursing home, and how a visit might play out there. “Lots of people will try to make you feel guilty in your life. Don’t. Just decide to put guilt out,” Katy encourages. I need to hear this. My mom is ill, and we are about to go back overseas.
Just as I’m about to make myself look at the clock, Katy takes my hand. “My friend Pat told me something the other day. She said she was sitting in her garden, and she was suddenly aware of a yellow butterfly. It reminded her for some strange reason of George. She couldn’t shake the feeling, so she went inside. The next morning she came outside again, and there that butterfly was again. Later that evening she looked for it, but it was gone…flown away. She didn’t see it again. She asked me what I thought about that (if I thought she was weird or crazy or something).” “Well, what did you say?” I prompted when she fell silent. “I was mad, really mad. I told her if George was going to bother flying around in a butterfly, he had better come see me first!” She had tears in her eyes, but she was laughing. I hugged her. “I love you Katy!” I said.
I reluctantly gathered my purse. Katy walked out the door with me to get her mail. Just as we reached my car, we both saw it at once. A yellow butterfly. “Well, goodness,” she said. It fluttered around us. I smiled, and I gave her another hug. “See you Sunday, Sugar,” she called.
This is an edited post from the archives. My beautiful friend, Katy, passed away Saturday, March 18, 2012.
We love you Katy. Thank you for telling me to write. I might not have been brave enough without you. You are one of the best story-tellers I have ever heard. You have made heaven a brighter place, and I know George is dancing around you. From one blue goose to another, Katie.